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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Ornaments of Sea and Forest

Do you get a kick out of seeing a look of wonder and enchantment wash across the face of a visitor to your home? That wide-eyed child who's asking, "what is that?!"  If you do, here's something for you: delicate hanging ornaments, handmade of sea urchin shells and turned wooden "icicles", or finials.

These charming decorations will evoke that kind of reaction from youngster and oldster alike. Adults unfamiliar with sea urchin shells will be delighted to find that these oddities were living creatures from the sea. I know I was, when I first saw them.

The shells are hollow, some being very lightweight and fairly fragile. Probably the most intriguing species of urchin shell is the more robust
Sputnik Sea Urchin Ornament
"Sputnik", shown in this photo.

This species has reddish or violet coloring in the vertical stripes between the "spikes", which are nodes where there were spines attached to the live animal. The icicle and cap in this example are made of maple that has been dyed deep purple to complement the shell's natural color. This shell is 13/4 inches in diameter; the total length of the ornament is 4 inches. Many shells are larger, some are smaller.

These ornaments are very light, weighing less than one ounce; so, they would be ideal for use as Christmas tree decorations, but of course they can be appreciated in a non-holiday setting too.
Another Sputnik

Here's another Sputnik ornament, with reddish stripes; the wooden parts are of dyed Black Locust.

Green Sea Urchin Ornament

This piece (left) is a Green Sea Urchin, a really attractive shell, mated to a Cottonwood cap and icicle. This species has hundreds of tiny bumps on the surface of the shell, giving it an interesting texture. The color is a fresh forest green.
 Another green shell example is this Tiny Green Sputnik, with a hand-turned ebony icicle. The body is 1 inch in diameter; overall length is 33/4 inches.
Tiny Green Sputnik
And finally, while not a hanging ornament, this 31/2 inch Alphonso Sea Urchin shell mushroom is, well, ornamental. This is one of several "mantle mushrooms" I've "grown". Its turned wood stalk emerges from a gnarly hunk of elm burl.
Alphonso Sea Urchin Shell Toadstool

These ornaments are available for purchase at Timberturner.com.

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